Parts of England officially fall into drought after months of scant rainfall

The Environment Agency announced that the south, south-west and south-east of England, along with the central and eastern regions, are in drought following a meeting of the National Drought Group, made up of water companies, ministers and other water authorities. Some parts of the capital London have also been affected.

The UK is experiencing five consecutive months of below-average rainfall and heatwaves, with temperatures expected to reach 37 Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas on Saturday. Since the beginning of 2021, only two months have seen below average rainfall.

Southern England received just 17% of average rainfall in July, according to Britain’s Met Office.

“We are currently experiencing another heat wave after the driest July in some parts of the country. Action is already being taken by the government and other partners, including the Environment Agency, to manage the effects,” said Steve Double, the country’s water minister. In a statement. “All the water companies have assured us that essential supplies are still secure and we have made it clear that they have a duty to maintain those supplies.”

While lack of rain and heat are contributing to the drought, around 3.1 billion liters of water is wasted in England and Wales every day due to leaks in the nations aging infrastructure. Consumer groups and experts have called on water companies to do more to prevent leaks.

The Environment Agency said in a statement that the government expects water companies to “reduce leaks and repair leaking pipes as soon as possible and take comprehensive action in line with government policy.”

Many rivers in England have dried up in parts, including the River Thames, which flows through London. have become officers Re-oxygenating rivers and saving fish where the level is low. The water level in the reservoir is also coming down rapidly.

Declaring a drought means that water companies and the government can implement drought plans without getting permission from ministers. Companies are likely to impose more hosepipe bans, which are already in place for millions of people, forcing them to water gardens and wash cars without a hose and to discourage filling paddling pools during the current heat wave. Companies can draw more water from rivers and other sources to ensure supply.

Friday’s announcement placed the declared area under an amber drought alert, meaning several indicators — including rainfall, river levels and flows, reservoir storage and groundwater levels — are very low.

Thirteen rivers that the Environment Agency monitors as an indicator of wider conditions have recorded their lowest levels ever, while soil moisture is comparable to the end of the 1975-76 drought, one of the country’s most severe. That drought was also caused by a combination of extreme heat and low rainfall for consecutive months.

An Amber Alert is one level below the more serious Red Alert and means that there is potential for stress on water supply sources, reductions in agricultural and crop yields, localized wildfires and impacts on wildlife and their habitats, According to previous reports by the Environment Agency.
The London Fire Brigade has also warned of “tinderbox dry” conditions and “exceptional fire risk” in the capital this week as temperatures are expected to reach 36 Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday and as grass — from lawns to public parks. And the heaths — bone dry and brown without the usual rain. Parts of the capital, including houses and parks, Fire struck On July 19 in a record heat wave.

Concerns about food security are increasing

The UK typically experiences drought conditions in some areas every five to ten years. The Center for Environment and Hydrology has said that drought conditions may persist till at least October. The agency is looking just months ahead and climate scientists have warned that if this coming winter is as dry as last winter, UK food security could be at risk.

Local residents use a garden hose to help firefighters battle a crop fire that has broken out on farmland and threatened local homes on August 11, 2022 in Skelton, England.

Liz Bentley, CEO of the Royal Meteorological Society, said there were already concerns about the impact of the drought on food supply and affordability.

“There are a lot of crops that are really struggling because of the lack of rain, like the potato crop here that depends on the rain, they usually don’t take water from anywhere else to irrigate the fields. And some other crops that do take water from rivers, for example, to irrigate the fields, they come Really struggling at the moment,” Bentley told CNN.

“Even in the current situation, the production of many crops is going to go down and the prices of these things are going to go up, and obviously that’s because of the drought in the UK. But there are other things going on across Europe.”

Repeated heat waves wreak havoc across Europe

About 63% of the land in the European Union and the UK is under a drought warning or alert issued by the European Drought Monitor, meaning there is insufficient soil moisture. This area is roughly the size of India, or the three largest US states — Alaska, Texas and California — combined. On 17% of the land, drought conditions are more severe, meaning plants are stressed.

Experts are warning that the drought could last into autumn or even winter, when the country receives most of its rainfall for the drier parts of the year. Another dry winter will further stress food security.

“It’s going to continue into the fall and then really, we don’t know beyond that. It depends on whether we see significant rain — a good steady rain that replenishes the water table,” Bentley said. “What we don’t want right now is heavy, thundery rain, because the ground is so dry that the water runs off. It doesn’t soak into the ground.”

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